Autism

Mall Santa makes kind gesture toward shy 6-year-old autistic boy

A mall Santa in Charlotte, North Carolina, who was not named by Fox 5 Atlanta, is photographed on the floor this holiday season with Brayden Deely, a 6-year-old boy with autism, to help quell the young boy's fear of strangers.

A mall Santa in Charlotte, North Carolina, who was not named by Fox 5 Atlanta, is photographed on the floor this holiday season with Brayden Deely, a 6-year-old boy with autism, to help quell the young boy's fear of strangers.  (Photo courtesy Fox 5 Atlanta )

A mall Santa Claus in Charlotte, North Carolina, is making headlines for his thoughtful gesture toward an autistic boy who visited him this holiday season. Fox 5 Atlanta reported that the Santa, whom the website didn’t name, got down on the floor  of the SouthPark Mall with a snow globe in hand when 6-year-old Brayden Deely approached him. Brayden’s family said he is usually shy around strangers, especially Santa.

But in this case, the Santa’s spontaneous gesture made Brayden feel instantly at ease, and now, the boy’s family and their community are hailing the Santa as a hero.

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“I just wanted to hug Santa because I was so happy that he got down [on the floor],” Erin Deely, Brayden's mother, told Fox5Atlanta.com. “I knew what would make Brayden comfortable, but I didn’t want to tell them that.”

Dan Deely, Brayden’s father, said “it’s once in a blue moon” that he and his wife have seen Brayden as engaged as he was with Santa.